The situation sounds all too familiar. A young Penguins player has a career year, and the following year he gets a new contract worth around $3 million dollars per year. However, once he gets this new contract, his production suddenly drops off. All of the sudden, he’s no longer getting top six minutes, and gets demoted to the bottom six forwards.
When Sheary had his best season of his career, he put up 53 points in 61 games, averaging around .87 PPG. Bryan Rust had similar stats last year, when he put up 38 points in 69 games. However, that translates to an average .55 PPG, which is still his most productive season to date.
Nonetheless, Rust actually got a bigger payday than Sheary. Rust landed a four year deal averaging $3.5 million dollars a year; Sheary only landed a three year deal averaging $3 million dollars per year.
Regardless of these seemingly mismatched contracts, the Penguins fan base seemed to be more disgruntled about the Sheary deal. The displeasure of this deal only got worse when Sheary had his down year, where he put up a meesely 30 points in 79 games. His resulting .38 PPG led to him being dealt in a cap dump deal to the Buffalo Sabres which included Matt Hunwick leaving the Penguins as well.
Sheary’s situation seems to be a mirror image of what is currently happening to Rust. Rust is having a career low year, putting up only 7 points in 28 games. However, it may be in the Penguins best interest to not impulse trade Rust after one down year, like they did to Sheary. Sheary is currently posting 12 points in 28 games with the Sabres; although that only works out to .43 PPG, it appears Sheary is working back towards his former self.
Sheary may never see a career year like he did before, but Sheary has bounced back and appears to solidified himself as a top 9 forward.
It would be in the Penguins best interest to let Rust work out of his slump, rather than make a sporadic trade, which could possibly turn out for the worse. After all, with the money the Penguins saved by trading Sheary, they signed Jack Johnson…who has had a less than desirable start to the year.